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Israel must 'immediately' stop demolition of Palestinian homes: EU
Israel must "immediately" stop the destruction of Palestinian homes in the refugee camp of Rafah in the southern Gaza strip, the Irish presidency of the European Union said Friday.
"The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Brian Cowen, called on the Israeli government to halt its demolition of Palestinian homes in the town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip immediately," it said in a communique.
Cowen also recalled in his communique that the Middle East "quartet" -- the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia -- had urged Israel at their May 4 meeting "to take steps to respect the dignity of the Palestinian people and improve their quality of life."
"The Quartet had also emphasised that Israel should refrain from demolition of Palestinian homes and property, as a punitive measure or to facilitate Israeli construction," he added.
The quartet has drafted an international roadmap for the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005. It was adopted by both sides at a summit in Jordan in June 2003 but very few of its points have been implemented.
Israel has said it would demolish hundreds of homes in Rafah, retaliating for the deaths of up to 13 of its soldiers this week in the southern Gaza strip near the border with Egypt.
The Israeli army has been systematically levelling the refugee camps of Rafah since the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000, making more than 11,000 people homeless, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).